Fit vs. Fiction's Blog


Kids want their junk food back..and I don’t blame them!

Posted in Uncategorized by fitvsfiction on May 8, 2012

A group of students at a high school in Brampton are protesting the Ontario Junk Food ban that is supposed to be taking “Junk food” out and replacing it with healthy alternatives. At first glance, it may seem like a silly protest, afterall, our schools SHOULD be taking measures to improve the health of our kids. However, once you understand the facts, it’s clear that these kids have a valid point to make, and it’s one that I’ve been trying to make for awhile now.

The Junk food ban is a bad idea. It’s a bad idea for many, many reasons.

1. My biggest issue with this kind of healthy food initiative is that there is NO EDUCATION being done to back it up. The kids aren’t being educated because the staff aren’t being educated. It makes no sense to go into a school and remove all the “unhealthy” food without explaing WHY it’s unhealthy. Too many of us think of “bad” foods as foods that are high in calories and fat, when in reality, it’s not the sugar and fat that we should be worrying about, but the dangerous perservatives that so much of our food contains.

Whoever is deciding what’s acceptable and what’s not acceptable, needs to check their facts. I have been in too many schools where they’ve removed the pop from the vending machines, only to replace it with DIET pop! Where the heck is the logic there?? The message that the kids get is that the diet stuff is better because it has less sugar and calories, but the chemicals are fine. Seriously?!

If our school boards TRULY want to supply healthy foods, they need to do their research. Forget the fat and calories, look at the INGREDIENTS instead and get rid of trans fats, artificial coloring and sweeteners, for example.

But don’t just get rid of the nasty stuff, teach the kids why these ingredients are dangerous and then leave it up to them to decide whether or not they want to put it in their bodies. Some will, some won’t, but at least they’ll have the information they need to make their own decisions.

I was pretty disappointed when I was speaking with a high schooler today, and she told me that when her school started removing all of the food the kids liked from the cafeteria, she asked the staff why they were making the changes and the only answer she got was,” BECAUSE THE SCHOOL BOARD TOLD US TO.” That’s it. That’s all.

I’m sorry, but that’s like the teacher version of the popular parental answer, “Because I said so.” which  has been frustrating kids since the history of kids!

I was also told that the new food in the cafeteria is all prepackaged and incredibly unappealing. With less people buying it, the school is making less money, which means the food is getting more expensive, making it even LESS appealing.

I also have to wonder how it’s not supposed to be confusing to kids to have teachers take their pizza and cookies away, only to have them flow freely in the staff room. Is it banned or is it not banned, you can’t have it both ways.

Which brings me to issue #2: Choice

What I am hearing from all of the kids I’ve spoken to about this, is how offended they are by the lack of confidence and respect the school board is showing them by deciding what they can and can’t eat. They understand the need for a variety of foods and have no problem with healthier options being brought in, but to completely ban all foods that the school board deems unhealthy is just silly.

One grade 12 student explained it well when she said, “They expect us to act responsibly and tell us that they are preparing us for University but then don’t trust us to make our own decisions about what we eat. What’s going to happen next year, when we have to make ALL of our own decisions? Are they trying to prepare us to take responsibilty for ourselves or not?”

The truth is, that if there were options, there’s a good chance that many of the kids would do pretty well in choosing what they wanted to eat.  By taking their choices away, it creates an inate need to rebel. It’s almost like they’re thinking, “So you won’t let us eat the foods we want,huh? Well then we’ll just have to go out and buy all the junk we can find!”

Most of the high school kids I spoke to said they stopped eating at school and now leave at lunch time to buy food from the fast food restaurants instead.

People, especially kids, want to feel like they have a say in their own lives and the worst thing we can do is implement programs that tell them they aren’t responsible and can’t be trusted. Kids are a lot smarter than they’re given credit for and if we give them the information and opportunity they need to make these kinds of personal choices, their choices may just surprise you.

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